Fountain Valley may add more than a half-dozen small soccer fields to its sports park.
The city is in talks with Goals Soccer Centres to convert one of the conventional soccer fields at the sports park, within Mile Square Regional Park, to a complex with seven lighted, all-weather artificial turf fields scaled down for games featuring five players a side, plus a larger field that could be split into three seven-a-side fields. There also would be office, restroom and snack areas. Teams for all ages and abilities could book fields by the hour.
Soccer typically fields 11 players per side, including goalkeepers. Field dimensions vary by age group, with adult matches played on pitches about 100 to 130 yards by 50 to 100 yards. Five-a-side pitches are generally about half that size.
Goals Soccer estimates it would spend $4.6 million on the project.
Nathan Woodbridge, Goals’ vice president of operations, said the faster small-pitch game lets young players get more touch time with the ball, preparing them for conventional soccer. Overhead netting and barriers around the fields keep the ball in play.
“It creates a very intense hour of soccer,” said Goals Chief Executive Andy Anson.
Beth Romero, Goals’ director of administration, said the international soccer organization FIFA credits the small game as the main driver of soccer growth worldwide.
“It appeals to all ages, not just youth but also young adults and over 40, and we’ve got people up into their 60s and 70s playing at our facilities as well,” she said.
Goals, which is based in the United Kingdom, would fund and maintain the complex on the site of the soccer field closest to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley, near the park’s Brookhurst Street/Heil Avenue entrance.
Goals has 46 locations in England and Scotland. Fountain Valley would be its fifth U.S. location, following complexes in Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga and Covina that opened in the past two years. It debuted in the United States in 2010 in South Gate.
Anson said Fountain Valley already has a strong relationship with the American Youth Soccer Organization, which also plays small-pitch games.
“We’d like to add to that and bring something new,” he said.
He said Goals keeps friendly relations with organizations like AYSO, sharing facilities and trying not to interfere with their leagues. He said public-private partnerships also are part of the Goals model, with facilities on city and school properties to keep access affordable for the operator and customers.
Orange County generally manages the 600-acre Mile Square Regional Park but guarantees Fountain Valley access to the 65 acres used as the Fountain Valley Sports Park. That means a potential lease for Goals would be directly with the city, according to City Manager Rob Houston.